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Ipswich children taught how to shake hands in careers day to give pupils 'that something extra'

Copleston High School's careers day for year-10 students had a strong focus on developing their 'soft skills' - including how to shake hands professionally. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL

Copleston High School's careers day for year-10 students had a strong focus on developing their 'soft skills' - including how to shake hands professionally. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL

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A good, firm handshake can reveal a great deal about your personality, they say. So Copleston High School students are likely to make a top impression - after being taught during a careers day the perfect way to greet potential future employers.

Careers advisor Claire Ladbrook and PHSE co-ordinator Jenna Halesworth have held the event at the Ipswich school for the past three years after constantly hearing feedback from employers about the need for so-called 'soft skills' in the workplace.

These can range from a good telephone manner to a can-do attitude and great interpersonal skills - so teachers tried to instil the skills youngsters are likely to need during the day-long event on Thursday, December 5.

The sessions for year-10 students included how to find work experience placements, as they are expected to source their own instead of rely on the school.

MORE: First glimpse inside Copleston High School's massive new building

They were told the basics of how to make the all-important phone call to a potential employer, as well as how to correctly and professionally compose applications.

There was also a checklist of things to do on their first day, such as how to dress - and even a hands-on practice session in how to shake hands properly.

Mrs Ladbrook said: "Employers are always telling us that young people need to have strong soft skills, so we try to develop those on this day.

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"They get taught how to communicate effectively with employers and have an employment interview skills session. There is also a session on what employers want.

"We also learn how to shake hands. Generally speaking, many young people can be uncomfortable with shaking hands. We learn how to do it in a business-like fashion.

"They have to have that extra something when they sit in front of an employer."

The day also included talks from employers, with Rebecca Keeble - senior student recruitment officer at the University of Essex - talking about the importance of higher education, while señor Ipswich Hospital nurse Tracey Risebrow talked about careers in the NHS.

Solicitor Ren Akintaju talked about careers in law, while there were also talks by retired BT manager Jean Rogers and HMRC tax auditor Lucy Ashford-Scott.

Mrs Ladbrook said restrictions on young people having part-time jobs until they are 16 has made it harder for them to learn about life in the workplace.

"When I was young, young people used to go out and get a part-time job," she said.

"Now you have got things like a PlayStation where young people don't need to leave their rooms - but that physical, personal interaction can be missing from their lives unless they take steps to get that experience."

Young people game resounding positive feedback about the day, with comments such as "I am now more confident in communicating" and that employers "want someone passionate, formal and memorable".

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